A People's Movement for Peace and
Security in the Af-Pak-India Region
Members of the Advisory Board
Dr. Maha Hosain Aziz (Chair Person)
Dr. Maha Hosain Aziz is a Social Scientist teaching self-designed masters courses on political risk & prediction and political opinion writing in the Politics Department at New York University (NYU). She is a Research Associate in the Centre of South Asian Studies at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). She continues to mentor undergraduate and masters students at SOAS and NYU on academic and career-related issues.
Dr Aziz also does pro bono work in higher education. Besides serving on the Advisory Board of the New Silk Road Generation to launch Afghanistan's first university e-mentoring program, she is part of the Virtual Education Project Pakistan. As Lecturer, she teaches condensed versions of her NYU masters courses to Pakistan-based students via a distance learning technology. The project supports the academic agenda of universities across the four provinces in the country.
Outside of academia, Dr Aziz is a Senior Analyst at Wikistrat, a cutting-edge geopolitical consultancy that applies a global crowd-sourcing methodology to identify political risk and map out political futures. She has been a Global Economics columnist for Businessweek.com since 2009, covering political analysis and strategy. She has written on varied topics including anti-government corruption movements in Afghanistan, youth unemployment in the Arab Spring region, uneven economic growth in post-war Sri Lanka and militant recruitment in rural Pakistan.
Previously, Dr Aziz was a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Politics and International Studies Department at SOAS, co-onvening an undergraduate course on democracy, development and militant groups in South Asia. She also taught an undergraduate course on British politics and democratic institutions at the London School of Economics (LSE), winning one university-wide teaching excellence award and two departmental teaching prizes in one year.
At the LSE, she was the C&J Modi/Narayanan Fellow while pursuing her doctoral research on the moral economy. Before her PhD, she worked in investment banking and media, and earned a bachelors at Brown University, a masters at Columbia University and a masters at the LSE. Dr Aziz is a Jordanian-born Pakistani who grew up in various cities in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Western Europe and North America.
Dr. Ravishankar Gundlapalli
Dr. Ravishankar Gundlapalli (“Ravi”) is the Founder and CEO of MentorCloud, the peer-to-peer platform purpose-built for aspiring individuals around the world to connect as mentors and mentees, share expertise and drive mutual professional growth. Ravi’s work and vision have been featured in Forbes India, Arab Knowledge@Wharton and Harvard Business Review. In July 2012, Ravi delivered a plenary talk at the US State Department in Washington DC during the 2nd Global Diaspora Forum, soon after Secretary Hillary Clinton announced the partnership between IdEA, her diaspora engagement initiative, and MentorCloud. Ravi was also an invited panelist in 2012 on the topics of mentoring and entrepreneurship at the 8th World Demographic and Aging Forum in St. Gallen, Switzerland, and What’s Next Boomer Summit in Washington DC.
Before MentorCloud, Ravi was the CEO and Chief Mentor of Turning Point Academy, a silicon valley-based mentoring services company for high school and college students, during which time he mentored over 150 students, and delivered a keynote on ‘Igniting Youth Leadership’ at the 1st international conference on ‘Igniting the Genius Within’ at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, India. Prior to that, Ravi spent 12 years as a supply chain management executive, serving clients such as Boeing 787, Raytheon, Hitachi GST, Cypress, and General Motors. Ravi has a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA, M.S. in Ocean Engineering from Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, USA, and B. Tech. in Naval Architecture from Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, India. Ravi lives in Silicon Valley, CA
Ambassador Omar Samad
Ambassador Omar Samad is currently Afghanistan Senior Fellow/Afghan Expert in Residence with the Center for Conflict Management at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington D.C.
He is the former Afghan Ambassador to France (June 2009 to July 2011) and also served as Afghanistan's Ambassador to Canada (October 2004 to June 2009). Prior to these postings, he was the Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kabul (Dec. 2001 to Sept. 2004) and Director General of the Information and Media Division, during which he also served as an advisor, speech-writer and member of the Ministry's reform committee. During his diplomatic career (2001 to 2011), he represented Afghanistan or participated in numerous bilateral meetings as well as multilateral conferences and specialized forums on Afghanistan, including the Tripartite Security Commission (US-Afghanistan-Pakistan).
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s he was an advocate for freedom and democracy in Afghanistan. As founder of the Afghanistan Information Center, in 1996 he launched Azadi Afghan Radio and its website based in Virginia. Following the September 11th attacks, he worked as a commentator and analyst for CNN and has been a consistent contributor to Afghan and international media. He writes extensively on Afghan and regional affairs, mostly published on the Foreign Policy journal, USIP, CNN blogs.
Omar Samad earned a Master's degree in International Relations (GMAP) from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University, Massachusetts) in 2006. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and International Affairs at the American University in Washington D.C. in 1991. He attended schools in Kabul Paris and London.
He is a member of the US-Afghan Women’s Council and on the advisory boards of The Kitson (Paris-based Think tank), the Fletcher School’s MENASA, The Afghan Higher Education Student e-Mentoring Program (Erasingborders.org), Initiative to Educate Afghan Women (IEAW) and Afghan Analytica.
He is fluent in English, French and Dari-Farsi, and proficient in Pashto.